"Towards a Zero Carbon Community"
Youlgrave is a village of about 1,000 people located three miles from Bakewell, Derbyshire, in the middle of the Peak District National Park. It sits high above the River Bradford, close to its confluence with the Lathkill.
Sustainable Youlgrave is a grass roots, community initiative that began in 2006 when a group of local people got together to examine how the Youlgrave area could become more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint. We cover the valley of the River Bradford, which includes not just Youlgrave but also the villages of Alport and Middleton-by-Youlgrave, as well as the rural parishes of Harthill and Gratton.
Google map showing the location of Youlgrave ... Zoom in or out to get a better picture of the village, or select the satellite view to see the layout and surrounding countryside. The map opens in a new window.
Turning waste into energy – our study shows that anaerobic digestion is the natural answer
Sustainable Youlgrave’s long-awaited study into the capture of energy from organic farm waste has now been published, and other community groups are also set to benefit from this pioneering research.
The £50K full feasibility study explored the potential for developing anaerobic digestion (AD) within the farming communities of the River Bradford valley, near Bakewell in the heart of the Peak District. It was commissioned by Sustainable Youlgrave as part of its commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of the Youlgrave area and was jointly funded by the Peak District National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, East Midlands Development Agency and SY itself.
Anaerobic digestion is simply the breakdown of natural waste in the absence of air, producing a gas – methane – to create energy, fuel and improved fertilizer. The UK produces about 100 million tonnes of such waste each year which could potentially generate up to 7% of the renewable energy required in the UK by 2020.
The Youlgrave study concluded that:
It can be financially, environmentally and socially beneficial and viable to
develop both single-farm AD and a centrally shared facility to service a number
of farms in the valley
• AD can help farms reduce their costs, for instance not having to buy in so much artificial nitrogen to spread on their land
• A central shared digester would create additional slurry storage and provide a small number of local jobs
• The annual reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions would be considerable – as much as 2,658 tonnes (equal to offsetting emissions from almost 230 houses)
• A community-run digester, in particular, would have the potential to provide an income stream to support other community-based and educational projects
• The improved fertilizer output, known as ‘digestate’, is ideally suited to grassland (liquor) and arable crops (fibre), with minimal surface and ground water pollution and little odour compared to conventional muck-spreading
Taking forward the development of AD would need to ensure that environmental
and planning requirements can be met. For a central facility in particular,
issues of scale, landscape impact and import and processing of waste will need
to be carefully considered.
The full feasibility study, carried out by Methanogen & Associates, involved consulting over 40 farms and associated farm and waste management businesses, as well as the local community and local authorities, and analysing a broad range of economic, regulatory and environmental factors. It looked at a range of approaches, including both single-farm plants and larger, shared facilities serving several farms.
An important output of the study was a ‘Toolkit’ that other groups and farming communities can use to explore the viability of AD on their own patch. It’s available to download as a free pdf HERE.
In terms of next steps, Sustainable Youlgrave is continuing its constructive dialogue with both the farming community and the local authorities to explore all the issues and options for AD development in the Bradford Valley. Sustainable Youlgrave hopes, after years of research and lobbying, to see real investment in renewable energy on the ground.
A more extensive and inclusive opinion poll of energy and water use and conservation measures, recycling, renewable energy, transport and SY was undertaken by the University of Sheffield masters research students and SY in 2009. The full report and its findings can be found here…